Formula 1

Pirelli’s Mario Isola Warns That Circuit of the Americas “shouldn’t be underestimated”

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Credit: LAT Images

After a weekend off, the FIA Formula 1 World Championship returns this weekend for one of the highlights of the year for both the fans and the drivers’, the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.

Max Verstappen claimed a narrow victory at COTA last season, whilst being hunted by Lewis Hamilton in what proved to be a vital result in regard to the Drivers’ Championship.

With flowing corners, heavy braking zones, one of the longest straights of the season, and that famous climb to Turn One, COTA truly is a circuit like no other, making it easy to understand why it’s loved amongst the paddock.

Pirelli have opted for their middle range this weekend, meaning the C2, C3 and C4 compounds will be in use, with it set to be fascinating to see how the larger and heavier cars deal with the constant direction changes, especially in sector one. Porpoising is potentially going to return in the opening practice sessions on Friday, with the COTA surface still being concerningly bumpy in places, something which could see some teams be forced to increase their ride height to reduce any chance of a penalty.

As was meant to happen at the Japanese Grand Prix, Free Practice Two will be ninety minutes rather than sixty, with the entire time to be spent testing Pirelli’s 2023 prototype tyres. However, any side that runs a young driver in Free Practice One will have thirty minutes of the second Friday session to do whatever they wish.

Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola is excited to be going to a venue where “you have to be ready for anything”, with Oracle Red Bull Racing hoping to seal their first Constructors’ Championship since 2013.

“The Circuit of The Americas is a balanced layout when it comes to the demands placed on cars and tyres in terms of traction, braking and lateral loads, but it’s mainly a flowing track that the drivers love, which nonetheless presents some challenging sections that shouldn’t be underestimated. The track was partially re-asphalted in 2020, with a ‘milling’ process also taking place last year to shave off the worst of the bumps that oblige teams to raise the ride height, which affects aerodynamics.

“In the first free practice session, there could be a high degree of track evolution so it’s going to be vital for the teams to maximise the data collected during FP3 to define the best strategy. The second free practice session will be dedicated to slick tyre testing for 2023, weather permitting. Weather conditions in Austin have been extremely variable in the past, so it’s a circuit where you have to be ready for anything!” 

Credit: Pirelli Motorsport
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